What have you heard about the flipped classroom? That it’s just the latest education fad? That it only works for certain academic subjects? It’s not uncommon to come across references in the web media to poorly informed and misconstrued ideas like these. Given the value and many benefits inherent in this powerful form of blended learning, it is important that these misconceptions be addressed and dispelled.
Following are 10 of the most common erroneous ideas about flipped teaching and learning that you may come across, and a brief explanation of why each of them is misinformed.
- It’s just the latest buzzword
Flipped instruction, a.k.a. the flipped classroom, is an evolution of the phrase “reverse instruction”, which first appeared in print in 20001. The concept gradually gained momentum over the years, with articles regularly being published towards the end of the decade that followed.
- It’s a ‘Trend’
As attested to above, the concept of was formally birthed about a decade and a half ago and has been gaining steam ever since. Clearly the Google Search graph indicates that interest shows no signs of abating. The Internet and news media got particularly interested in the concept in 2013, as evidenced in “Flipped Classroom: The (1 Minute) Movie”. Flipped teaching and learning is an emerging construct that is becoming increasingly commonplace in our schools.
- It’s all or none – you either flip your class or you don’t.
One of the main things I try to clear up right away when I introduce flipped instruction to teachers is that they have to flip all or most of their content. This is absolutely not the case. Teachers can start leveraging flipped classroom tools and techniques on a small, limited scale – flip a lesson, a week, a unit – and then decide how much and how often to use the approach. If it becomes something you want to leverage on a wide scale, go for it, but you may also find that what works best for your classroom is using the approach in just specific situations.
- It must be judged as being either “right” or “wrong”
This just doesn’t make sense. Is choosing to bake or fry the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to cook? Is using watercolors or oil paints the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to paint? Flipped instruction is another tool in the teacher’s digital tool box, not a definitive “do” or “don’t” idea.
- It’s only good for certain subjects
While it is easy to see how freeing up class time for active learning is easy in math and science, that free class time can be used to personalize and reinforce learning in all subject areas. Sams and Bergmann’s excellent book, Flip Your Class: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, offers a number of good examples of this, as do so many teachers who have written about it on the web. One of my favorite, unexpected examples (that makes a lot of sense in hindsight) is Physical Education!
- It’s something new
The flipped classroom is essentially a combination and repackaging of time tested teaching concepts and modern era digital learning constructs, such as assigning homework, reviewing and reinforcing learning content, blended learning tools and techniques, and so on. The only thing truly new about it is how much attention it is getting and how quickly it is being adopted by many teachers.
- You have to video yourself lecturing in order to flip you classroom
There is a strong tendency for teachers to think that “delivering lecture content online” means that you have to stand or sit in front of a camera and record yourself lecturing. While that can be an effective technique when done well (hint: partner with another teacher), it certainly isn’t the only way to approach creating good digital content. There have never been more tools and approaches (and so many good quality free resources) available for creating digital learning materials.
- Flipped content has to be in video format
Digital learning content can take many forms. While screencasting remains the most popular approach to creating flipped learning content – there are countless ways to create content that students can access online. Voice over Powerpoint slides to make a narrated slide deck, create a curated set of web resources using LessonsPaths or a similar tool, build a web site with Edmodo or Weebly and bring together a wide variety of digital learning resources and add discussion forums, quizzes, etc. … the possibilities just keep on growing!
- There is no evidence that it works
The body of empirical evidence indicating increased engagement and improved learning outcomes through flipped teaching and learning is growing every day. Clintondale Highschool in Michigan has produced impressive results and garnered a lot of attention in the media, but that’s just one of many such cases where grades and retention have been improved in measured ways.
- Teachers have to create all their own flipped learning content
While it is understandable and laudable that many teachers wish to create most or all of their own flipped learning materials, there is a wealth of great content available on the Web from other educators and from experts in their respective fields. Not only can you use excellent resources like Ted.com videos, Khan Academy tutorials, free lectures from leading universities, and so on, you can also take those videos and use free tools like ed.ted.com to deliver them privately and add quizzes, additional learning resource links, and other content and functionality to customize them for your unique classroom needs.